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    High Yield

    Tomatoes photo by New Vision.jpg

    Livingstone Ng’ang’a makes an extra Sh50,000 a season from selling his tomatoes in Muthurwa market in Nairobi and Daraja Mbili market in Kisii, as opposed to waiting for orders during harvesting time from local traders. The move has seen his earnings climb to Sh2.06m a season from Sh2.01m.


    He started tomato farming in 2013 on his one and a half acre farm in Ng’arua village, Laikipia County producing five lorries of tomatoes carrying 72 boxes each per season. He ferries his produce to the market after getting tips on tomato price trend in the markets.

     RELATED ARTICLE: 'Accident' tomato growing saves farmer who lost Sh300,00 in poultry

    “When I am about to harvest, I normally find out the market price from brokers and compare the cost of transport against the profit of waiting on orders. If the difference is less than Sh500 per boxm then I would rather wait for orders from local traders to avoid transport cost,” said the 2017 Bachelor of Law (LLB) graduate from Mount Kenya University.


    “However, I do prefer selling my produce in the market to waiting on orders from traders because they select only grade one to three tomatoes, which are bigger in size and desirable, leaving the smaller ones, which go to waste. When I sell at the market, I transport all my produce, including the smaller ones, which are also sold.”

     RELATED ARTICLE: Tomato farming creates a 4.3M job for Laikipia youth

    This also helps him avoid unnecessary wastage as the sorted out small and undesirable tomatoes are left in the farm unsold something which can be avoided when all produce are taken to the market.


    “When I take my tomatoes to the market I stand a chance of selling all of them including the small ones because of high demand as there are all types of traders who buy for their different customers.”


    Ng’ang’a grows the Shanty F1 tomato variety. Five boxes of the 72 carry small tomatoes of grade four and five, which count as low quality, leaving 67 of high quality. A box of high quality tomatoes goes for Sh6000 while that of low quality fetches Sh2000 per box, earning him Sh2.06m per season in total.

     RELATED ARTICLE: Tomato turns Western students into entrepreneurs

    Besides, local traders do not have standard boxes for buying tomatoes. These boxes if fully filled with tomatoes beyond the limits produce two boxes of tomatoes when the traders reach the market earning them double profit.


    “Traders from around who call for orders have bigger boxes than the ones used in the market. They pay Sh7000 per such big box but when they reach they divide it and produce two selling Sh6000 per box,” said Ng’ang’a.


    To cope with the work load, the 23 year old farmer has so far employed four workers at his farm helping him with farming, weeding and finally harvesting.




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    Oyster Mushroom, Victor Kyalo.jpg

    Sprouting oyster mushroom. A kilo of oyster mushroom goes for between Sh400 and Sh600 in the market.

    Victor Kyalo, a mushroom farmer from Kathioko, Machakos County is expecting to double his income to Sh600,000 during this dry season by selling his produce direct to the market rather than via middle men who pay less by Sh50 reducing his profit by half.

    According to mushroom market price trends by National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), a kilo of mushroom fetches between Sh400 and Sh600 depending on the varieties but middlemen pay farmers Sh350 per kilogram denying farmers their full profit.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Once jobless youths earn Sh4 million monthly from mushrooms

    “Last year when I harvested my mushrooms for the first time a broker in Nairobi promised me a good market only to offer Sh350 per kilo after transporting the produce to him,” said Victor Kyalo.

    Kyalo uses water from his 60-foot dug well to keep his mushrooms growing during this dry season. He ferries his produce to Nairobi to look for a bigger market through public transportation at Sh300 per trip.

    “This is the second time I am planting this type of mushrooms. I planted five litres of spawns during last year’s November to December short rains and got Sh250, 000 after selling the crops in Nairobi but I have  increased to 10 litres of spawns this time round to double my harvest,” said Kyalo.

    RELATED ARTICLE: How to grow mushrooms for export

    He learnt about mushroom farming from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) having paid to Sh10, 000 for a three day training session last year and he has since ventured in oyster mushroom farming having been encouraged by the first harvest.

    He is using wheat straws as substrate and sand to grow the mushrooms in his 15x20 metres grass-thatched mud house. Since mushrooms have 80 to 90 per cent water content hence they need humid environment to thrive, sand helps Kyalo to retain water for a long time after sprinkling.

    “There is many uses of water here and the little water we have especially this dry season must be spent well, that is why I use sand to moderate water lose as it keeps the room wet for a long time thus I have to use less water,” he said.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Oyster mushroom cultivation

    Mushroom house are supposed to be sprinkled with water throughout the day but Kyalo does this only three times a day, in the morning before sunrise, midday and in the evening after sunset. This he says keeps the room between 18 to 21 degrees temperature enough for the substrate to start colonizing and further sprouting of the mushroom.

    He is now looking for serious buyers just before harvesting begins, about mid next month to avoid middle men whom he says denied him his full profit at a time he was expecting better sales.

    He expects to harvest his mushrooms for a period of one month.

    RELATED ARTICLE: There is clean money in mushrooms

    Button mushrooms are the popular type grown in Kenya but oyster mushroom production is readily picking up because it is easy to grow, has higher yields and has more nutritional value than button according to NAFIS. Its low production cost makes it appealing to small farmers like Kyalo.

    Kenya produces 500 tonnes per annum of mushroom against an annual demand of 1200 tons both in hotels and home consumption. This makes mushroom farmers confidence of finding market for their produce.


    Victor Kyalo can be reached on +254708486882



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    Trader displaying avocadoes in market. Ban on export of Hass and Fuerte avocado varieties is temporarily lifted. Kenya produces an estimated 200,000 metric tonnes of avocado annually but only 16,000 is exported.

    Small scale farmers in Kenya are breathing a sigh of relief thanks to the government last week temporarily lifting the ban on exports of avocadoes.

    Fuerte and Hass avocado varieties export was banned in December last year due to a shortage in the market as they were off-season; this influenced the sale of the fruits in the market while still immature. Fuerte which is now on-season is at the moment allowed for export while Hass exportation will begin exportation next month when it will be on-season.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Government bans avocado exports on shortages

    The Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the parastatal responsible for ensuring the quality of agricultural inputs and produce, has now set new guidelines to monitor the harvesting process to prevent immature fruits from reaching the market.

    “Traders can now export the Fuerte avocadoes, however, they will need a clearance certificate from KEPHIS”, said Alfred Busolo, Agriculture and Food Authority's (AFA) director general.

    Over 75 per cent of small-scale farmers in Kenya were affected by the ban. So bad was it for them that avocado farmers from Murang’a County filed a case against the government at the High Court last month arguing that they will suffer huge losses because some of them had already harvested their fruits.

    RELATED ARTICLE:More farmers certified to sell avocado in EU

    Smallholder avocado farmers in the country produce about 81,000 metric tonnes annually of the fruit, of these, 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes goes to waste due to a lack of ready market. Additionally, Kenya produces an estimated 200,000 metric tonnes of avocado annually but only 16,000 is exported, with the figure expected to reduce due to the ban.

    Fresh produce exporter companies such as Selina Wamucii (Kenya) Ltd have thus welcomed the move by the government to lift the ban temporarily terming it as a sigh of relief to the sector and the farmers.

    "It's definitely very good news for the small family growers who produce over 70 per cent of avocado that is exported in Kenya,” said Selina Wamucii CEO, John Oroko.

    “The ban was a wake-up call for exporters as was imposed to stop exporters from shipping out immature crop because of high demand in the world market. We are now getting into the main avocado season and hope that all industry players comply with the export requirements. The responsibility is now on the exporters to follow the protocols to avoid any future suspensions.”

    RELATED ARTICLE:Avocado farmers to earn more from EU in April

    Agriculture and Food Authority, the parastatal in charge of promoting best practices in, and regulating, the production, processing, marketing, grading, storage, collection, transportation and warehousing of agricultural and aquatic products among other objectives, rates Kenya as the second largest avocado growing and exporting country in Africa after South Africa.

    Last year for example, 461.1 tonnes worth Sh7.1bn was produced as compared to 387.2 tonnes worth Sh5.4bn in 2016.These fruits contribute about seven per cent of the total fruit export to the global market in Kenya, according to AFA data.

    Some of the countries which have shown interest in Kenyan avocadoes include Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Iran, Libya, and Egypt among others.

     RELATED ARTICLE: Global avocado demand doubles prices





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